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Senior Management

Our senior managers are also role models for our staff. We are looking for managers who provide their staff with the tools and the freedom they need to achieve optimum results. Do you support and promote able staff, yet also demand that they use their abilities for the benefit of the company? Do you always encourage your staff to pursue their personal development? Can you identify with our corporate culture? We are looking for the best senior managers to lead the best staff by example.

Interviews

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Sina Schmid, Manager of the Customer Service Department

How long have you worked at Uzin Utz AG and what is your role?

I have been working at the company since 2005 and I run the German customer service department.


Which area do you work in? What brand do you work for?

I am the manager of the customer service department and have a very dedicated team of 11 employees. We support customers of the brands UZIN, codex, WOLFF and RZ. What is important in this role is to support a firmly defined customer territory in order to build up high levels of customer loyalty. My area covers some parts of Lower Saxony, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. A large part of my job includes project work and the continuous optimisation of our area. I find the following motto “He who stops getting better has ceased being good” (Philip Rosenthal) very appropriate.


What is your career background? Why this task?

When I joined Uzin Utz AG I started my training to become an industrial sales representative for international business management and I was then taken on in the customer service department. Relatively quickly I got the chance, deputising for someone else, to take over the management of the department. When our former departmental manager rose to become the manager of the whole area, I took on the management of customer service for Germany in 2011.


And what do you particularly enjoy in your role?

I very much enjoy leading such a highly motivated team and encouraging its further development – and also, together with this team, satisfying our customers' requirements. It is particularly great when we can help a customer to solve a problem and then inspire them. It is also exciting to optimise processes and drive projects forward. My role is totally varied.


What does it mean to be a manager?

As a manager you always have to be conscious of the fact that you are a role model. This also includes a conscious decision to align your own values to the company values and ideas and then to embody them and pass them on to others. It is important to create good framework conditions and structures for one's own area so that every employee can act independently and continue their development. Therefore in a workshop together with my team, I define objectives that we can work towards during the year.

Management also requires an ability to act based on specific situations and an understanding of the different characters in the team. I believe open communications to be very important.

As a manager you should not only be focusing on your own area but for instance when it is a question of process optimisations one should have a cross-departmental thought process, take interfaces into account and incorporate them.


For you what makes working at Uzin Utz AG so special?

The very good working atmosphere with colleagues along with an attitude of mutual respect is what makes the work so special. Esteem is really embodied at Uzin Utz AG! You can see that the the focus sbolutely is the employee.
It's great to be part of this successful family-run business.
In addition, I find the further development opportunities within the company to be absolutely brilliant.
 

The interview was conducted in 2012. Mrs Schmid now Manager of the Customer Service Department Inland & Export.

Uwe Ritter, Head of Operations & Logistics

What do you do, what are your responsibilities, and how long have you been with the company?

I have been with the company for exactly 20 years. I am currently responsible for Operations & Logistics. This includes production, materials management and control, projects, maintenance and distribution logistics all the way to the customers.
Almost 90 people, production staff, department heads and researchers, report directly to me.

How do you lead such an extensive and heterogeneous division?

I establish structures that allow the heads of the various departments to truly manage and lead their respective departments. I therefore meet regularly with the heads of department and, if called for, I will also meet with individual members of staff. We define clear target agreements and hold subsequent reviews to see whether they have actually been reached. Once target achievement develops in the right direction, I leave them a free reign, although it must be said that some people thrive on this, and others prefer closer supervision. I as the senior manager have to be able to recognise exactly who needs how much support. My division consists of five departments. We have weekly meeting with the heads of department where results are presented and priority measures also needing my input are defined. Apart from that, the departments are quite self-sufficient when it comes to decision-making and working routines.

What qualities does a manager need?

A manager has to understand people. It is far easier for me to do my job if I am capable of interpreting someone's emotional input correctly, rather than seeing it as a threat. You need to give people a free reign, but you also need to set them targets, and establish parameters that allow the staff to grow. Once that is the case, an area is well-structured and managed. We have defined a 'code of honour' for Operations & Logistics that sets out how we communicate with each other, and how we deal with conflicts. I do not think that it should be one of my priorities to motivate the staff, as they are responsible human beings capable of taking full responsibility for themselves and their actions; I must in fact do all I can to avoid the opposite effect of demotivating them.

What is your background?

I graduated as a Diplomkaufmann, i.e. I have the German equivalent of an MBA, and started as a trainee with a major corporation. I was given the opportunity of learning the basics of practical materials management and control in six or seven of their leading divisions before I realised that working for such a large corporation was not really my cup of tea. I wanted to work for an enterprise is actually enterprising, and gets things moving, rather than a company where it takes ages to get anything done because of hierarchical restrictions. So in 1991, I joined the company as Dr. Utz's assistant. It was an incredibly interesting time for me, a real eye-opener. And the first permanent position to follow after that was Head of Materials Management and Control. Then I was also given the responsibility for the Finished Goods Storage and Distribution departments. I also worked on some projects at the same time, the new building for plant number 2 was my first project. Another one was the conversion of the assembly control system at Wolff. We introduced the Kanban system in Vaihingen for the assembly control between the assembly and part-finishing areas, a very exciting project. And now I am responsible for the management and restructuring of operations, logistics, and production plants 1 and 2.

What do you appreciate most about Uzin Utz, why have you stayed with the company for so long?

I enjoy my job here, the company offers me the kind of security that I did not feel I had in a big corporation. I value the way the owner and the management board treat the staff. I value how projects are realised with clearly defined structures, budgets and targets whilst the decision-making authority as such remains with the respective managers. That makes it fun, it's as simple as that.

What do you appreciate about your staff?

I value their increasing willingness to shoulder some of the burden changes inevitably bring, and the increasing input on their part. And the wonderful experience that even though we are in a commercial environment, there is a high level of motivation and willingness to take on responsibility. The staff deliver really good results, provided the parameters are clearly defined and they are allowed input.

What would you tell someone who is thinking of applying to the Uzin Utz AG, and what skills should this person have?

I wouldn't exactly want to motivate them, for the simple reason that I take it as a given that it's fun to share in good results which you have contributed to. The most important thing is a discerning curiosity, that you are prepared to contribute something and make the full extent of your potential available to the company. You need plenty of independent initiative, but it must lead in the right direction. Drive isn't all that counts, what is also important is that you are a good listener. Projects are initiated by first analysing your point of view, thinking it through, rather than just ploughing ahead. The requisite dynamics evolve from a target-oriented structure. You need to know exactly where you're going. And the most important thing of all is, you need to want to work off your own back, show people 'I can do this, just give me the scope I need and I'll show you!'. That has been my own experience, and that is also what I expect from the other managers.

Jürgen Walter, Sales Director Baden-Württemberg

What do you do, what are your responsibilities, and how long have you been with the company?

I am the Sales Director for the Baden-Württemberg region for the flooring division of the brands Uzin, Wolff and RZ. I am also responsible for the switchTec products, and I look after the UFloor systems key accounts. So that is quite a wide spectrum, but that also makes my job so exciting and interesting. You get to meet very different target groups: the architects I tend to deal with when it comes to UFloor systems, and then there are also the flooring technicians and wholesalers I meet as a Sales Director. I started with the Siga Floor AG in 2003 and came to the Uzin Utz AG through the takeover, which was a real bonus for me.

What are the differences you have noticed between the target groups?

The differences obviously lie in the way they use our products. An architect is hardly going to be interested in whether a floor leveller goes on smoothly and doesn't go all lumpy when you mix it. They will be more interested in the ecological aspect and sustainability, and being able to give the respective assurances in terms of safety and quality along the whole of the value creation chain. You also have to offer architects additional services that make it easier for them when it comes to tender documentation, preliminary planning and construction time scheduling. Whereas a flooring technician is more interested in the quality of the products, the on-site technical support and the logistics, and getting value for money.

What does your daily routine look like?

I have many different responsibilities to deal with during the course of my working day. I might, for example, visit existing customers along with my team, yet also secure new customers. This close customer liaison is important to me so I don't lose track of the important things. At the same time, though, I also have to deal with a lot of paperwork, which I do from my home office. This includes the planning of training courses, for example, or customer events and sales campaigns. And of course it is also important to check the sales targets and meet with my staff to decide how we are going to achieve them together.

How many people are there in your team?

We are a team of expert consultants and technicians. Currently, six sales representatives report directly to me, plus three field technicians. So we are a small unit within the larger Uzin Utz AG.

What do you expect from your team members?

I expect my team members to be committed and passionate about us reaching our targets together as a team.
I expect utmost engagement, I also expect them to question the way we do things from time to time, criticism and constructive input on how we can do things better.
Everyone has a different view of the market, and everyone talks to their customers in their own particular way and you have to ensure that the company is made aware of any valuable ideas emerging from the market or the staff. I value this dialogue very much indeed, and I also expect my staff to do so. I don't want someone just doing their own thing with all their might; I want them to stop and think about the whys and wherefores of what they are doing, and whether whatever they are doing is actually a good thing.

How were you able to develop your career over time?

I started as an ordinary sales rep for switchTec, and then I was given the responsibility for a key account in that field, and through that I joined a project group on the subject of architects and planning, and that is how I came to deal with UFloor. The next step into senior sales management was a show of confidence in me, but also a huge challenge. I am a certified master of interior fittings and furniture installation and used to use the UZIN products myself. That was a great move for me, from technician to being responsible for selling the products.

How much scope do you have in your daily routines?

I have a completely free reign. Of course there is always an overriding, clearly defined target, but I can choose the steps I take to get there. I can take the initiative and plan the acquisition of new customers or the liaison with existing major customers as I see fit. But of course I also have to provide 'emergency services' when there are administrative or technical problems.

What do you particularly appreciate about the Uzin Utz AG as an employer?

I value the corporate culture very much, as the focus really is on the staff. We are a very people-focused company that believes in certain values, and it is also run along those lines. It is simply fun to be a small part of the bigger picture, to give some input and to get things moving.